High rank sets low value

by Anthony Berteaux, Senior Staff Columnist

As Aztecs, we are living in the golden age that is San Diego State. As a public school, we are quickly climbing the ranks and getting notable mentions on industry-important lists such as Forbes and the United States News and World Report. Nationwide, we rank No. 10 in international business programs, No. 19 in MBA business programs and No. 18 in entrepreneurial programs.

The positions our school has earned in these notable rankings has proved us as the owners of superior programs compared to notorious rivals such as the University of California, San Diego and the University of Southern California.

Needless to say, it’s a good time to be an Aztec. We study at one of the top public universities in the U.S. However, these rankings are conveying a misleading message.

It’s in this bleak environment for the millennial of this generation that the value of our college education has  become equated with the possibility of employment and its monetary value.

As students, the rankings our school prides puts emphasis on this perspective, which diminishes the importance of a liberal arts education and upholds the value of maintaining a quota of employed students. Many college campuses have become less of actual educational universities and have transformed into trade schools.

While we, as a school, should celebrate SDSU’s recognition for excellence in these programs, we are ignoring something vital to our education in the process. There is a crucial flaw in the ranking system.

The objective ranking system used by these notable publications and organizations have a heavy emphasis on post-grad employment, quantifying educational institutions by objective statistics. No matter what the ranking system, there seems to be a continuous and eerie echo of graduate employment rates and obvious emphasis on the results of education through employment. This skews the rankings to favor technical majors, such as business, over non-technical liberal arts majors, such as history or art.

This sentiment is reflected widely in colleges across the U.S. According to a Forbes article about the “The 10 Worst College Majors,” liberal arts majors such as anthropology, archaeology, film and media arts, fine arts, philosophy and religious studies are considered useless because of their low-income opportunities, lack of market value and generally high unemployment rates among graduates.

Conversely, the article recommends technical majors such as health, business and various science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors because of their high income and low unemployment rates. The value behind a major now lies in its intrinsic market and monetary value for employment, rather than its educational value.

When we allow objective ranking statistics to assign value to our education in such a manner, we are misled to think the ultimate purpose of our college education isn’t the knowledge itself, but a job.

Understandably so, we live in the dark ages when it comes to millennial post-graduation employment. The unemployment rate for educated adults with degrees is nearly double now than it was in 1965.

The reality of the matter is liberal arts majors and a liberal arts education benefits students in the long run in relation to employment benefits. The reason we take humanities, regardless of whether we are liberal arts majors, is because of the long-term benefits of gaining skills in critical thinking and communication. In a recent study, 47 percent of employers found these are the skills students often lack.

A recent survey has shown 93 percent of employers value critical thinking, communication and problem solving skills over a particular major. While employment isn’t the end-all for liberal arts majors, the critical thinking skills fostered by such an education actually help a student.

“Being an English major is applicable to more jobs than people think,” English senior Kelly Borns said. “The skills I’m learning are skills I will carry with me with everything I do.”

That’s what education should be about. It isn’t so much about how we can quantify our rank in the world in certain fields, or how many students get jobs after college; it’s about what each unique student can learn from our prestigious programs and carry with them in everything they do. Each educational journey is different.